Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Blacklist Recap: The Mombasa Cartel, Episode 2.06

The Little Shop of Horrors

Written by Chompstick

Around the World in 60 Minutes

Tonight we finally get one of the Big Questions answered -- what's behind Liz's locked door?  But that's saved for the last 50 seconds of the show.  Tonight we're hopping all over the globe and even doing a little time traveling along the way. Paris, Russia, Alaska. First stop: Sierra Leone, 29 years ago. A cute little guy of six is feeding his goats while his mom is hanging wash. A vehicle loaded with men comes roaring up to the house looking for the little boy's father, Samwel Zuma. They kill him, the mom, and three other family members.  The stunned boy is carried off under the arm of one of the killers.

Next up on our world tour is Paris, where a hotel employee is bringing breakfast in bed to a guest. I don't think the guest was expecting a strangling to come gratis with the poached eggs.  The room server uses some contraption to tag his ear, and I'm thinking the guest is still alive because hidden beneath the tablecloth on the room service cart is a cage. Our next destination is Kamchatka, Russia. A boy, his grandfather, and a dog are walking on the beach where they discover a human body tangled among driftwood. Now I know dogs. And I know mine would be rolling all over that dead body.  They must have trained all the dog out of that dog.

We make a stopover in our nation's capitol, where Lizzy is cooling her heels while Red watches a tiger documentary on TV.  On Red's agenda this week are animal poachers -- more specifically, the Mombasa Cartel.  They're looking to monopolize the illegal wildlife trade to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Across town, agent-turned-junkie, Ressler, is at a pharmacy illegally trying to have his pain killers "replaced", but his request is denied. He's looking a bit desperate and shaky.

At the Post Office, Liz is briefing the team about the high-ranking poachers. They discuss the flayed and skinned body found on the Russian beach. The dead man was a former poacher, aka the hotel guest from France. Samar interjects that on an annual basis, the M.C. smuggles billions of dollars worth of animal hides, ivory, illegal exotic pets, and folk remedies. What do you mean "folk Remedies"? Cures for erectile dysfunction, she replies, while eyeing Aram up and down.  A single rhino horn can sell for $9,000 in Vietnam, she continues.

Liz is at The Door of Doom which leads to a basement boiler room befitting her "gutter-punk" past (as she was described in the original, unused script). There's a body on the floor which is never explained. Just then Motel Man barges in.  "Do you want to tell Reddington or should I?" he asks.

A Macabre Mannequin

North to Alaska. In a rustic room filled with creepy animal heads covering the walls, an eerie tall man, who resembles a mannequin, is taxiderming...a person! (okay, I know that might not be a real word ...) We see another man, this one stuffed and dead. It's the guy from Paris, who has traded in his fluffy white robe for a red and black checked flannel shirt in keeping with his surroundings. The man's gray-haired, equally creepy mother stands by admiring his handiwork. A song is playing on a record player: Run from me darlin'. Run my good wife. You better run for your life.

We'll be bouncing around between DC and Alaska for the remainder of the show. In DC, Red and Lizzy walk around the Tidal Basin while he tells her about Geoff Perl, American business tycoon and expert in the illegal animal trade. In fact, he has established a foundation that has given millions to animal related causes.  Liz meets with Geoff, played by the illustrious Peter Fonda. Afterward, Red tells Lizzy:

Red:  I knew Geoff would adore you. You're a dead ringer for the last two of his three wives.
Liz:  Oh. What did his first one look like?
Red:  More like me than you, I'm afraid.

Who's Poaching the Poachers?

Geoff gives Liz the name Lee Chung, a suave young man associated with Emerson-Concorde Imports. Liz and Ressler soon locate Chung and take him into custody. It doesn't escape Liz's notice that Ressler challenges Chung a bit too aggressively. Chung is in the business of importing game meats and animal parts from endangered species, and presumably cures for erectile dysfunction. We also discover that a second skinned body has been found along the coast of Japan; it's the body of a Bolivian poacher who worked for the M.C.

Sitting on his bed and looking very lonely is Motel Man. Liz is watching him through her binoculars as she calls to thank him for the 24 hour reprieve he gave her to tell Red about the mystery behind The Door of Doom. She tells him she met with Red but didn't say anything. "That's too bad. It would've been better coming from you," he says. "I hope you understand I don't have a choice." Suddenly, WHAM! Motel Man's room is stormed by armed federal agents, he's thrown to the ground and cuffed. And Lizzy counters, "Neither do I."  

Back in Alaska at the Little Shop of Horrors, Mother is speaking to another son, Peter. Wouldn't you know, it's the Parisian room service attendant. "Father called," she reports. "He found another 'friend' for Matthew." Blech! Peter complains that he's the one who has to take all the risks and abduct their victims. "The poachers your father identified deserve what they get," she retorts. Their interaction is disturbing.

Very Snappy, Kenneth!

Finally, Zoe (remember Zoe?) appears. Red is sitting at an outdoor table at the food truck where she works. He rises and deliberately leaves his hat on a chair, in a ruse to create an encounter with her. Sure enough, she calls to him. He introduces himself as Kenneth Rathers and they begin to establish some type of relationship that I can't quite define. If Zoe is Red's daughter, it seems odd to me that she's living in DC rather than escaping far away, in say, Peoria.

Aram tracks the origin of the bodies that washed ashore in Russia and Japan by using a simulation of the ocean currents.  I want his job...it's so cool! The bodies came from Sitka, Alaska, home of the former Animal Underground Network, a militant animal rights group. In 1971, the leader and six others, the Sitka Seven, were convicted of five counts of homicide. Cooper sends Ressler to Alaska to investigate.

At Red's hotel, he and Lizzy are watching the news on TV. He's none too happy to see his scruffy old mug on the screen during a report of an anonymous tip on the Concierge of Crime's possible whereabouts. I wondered if we were ever going to hear that term of endearment again. Also mentioned is the arrest of his close associate, Motel Man. Red's very displeased with his protege, Lizzy. We find out that Motel Man's real name is Ezra. I think we heard that last week but I refused to acknowledge it. Ezra is so unbefitting this creature! Maybe Zane, Antonio, Dmitri, Adrian. Not Ezra. I shall continue to call him Motel Man. Or Mateo.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

I finally get to use that saying in context!
At Chateau Gruesome the strains of Run from me Baby play on a tub-side radio while Matthew soaks in a bubble bath. While this man-child, mostly child, pretends to be Santa Claus with a bubble beard, his Mother tells him that Peter the Freak is coming tomorrow. "He's bringing a new friend for you to play with.  Isn't that great?" All I can say is I'm glad I didn't break out the donuts for tonight's writing all-nighter.

Elsewhere in Alaska, Ressler is out of pills, but that doesn't stop him from licking his finger and trying to pick up Percocet dust in the vial. He resorts to - gross out warning - purposely slamming his thumb in the car door so he can get another prescription for pain killers. Liz calls to tell Ressler he needs to go check out a ranch which is the site of the former Animal Underground commune. It is now owned by Wendigo, LLC.  In folklore, a wendigo is a person who has been transformed into a monster by the consumption of human flesh.  Now I'm really glad I passed up the donuts.

Ressler approaches the ranch, believing it to be deserted. (I just have to mention that I had the exact same wooden owl wind chime growing up.) Ressler confronts Mother, and Peter who attacks him and takes him down and out.

Aram uncovers that the two victims where both transported in private jets controlled by Wendigo. The company also owns property in Sitka.

Ressler awakes in a cage next to Chung in the woods.  Both have tagged ears.  Peter tells his brother to hunt, “only animals that are tagged.” The cages open, the captives run, Matthew goes on the hunt, and Chung is killed with an arrow that Ressler then breaks off. He runs and comes across a group of men around a cozy campfire. One is holding a mug, another is playing guitar, and all are stuffed human hunting trophies that look like they're starting to melt.  Later, Matthew shows up but fails to notice that there's now one extra camper, Ressler, who attacks and stabs him with the broken arrow.

Mother is talking on the phone to Peter's and Matthew’s father – none other than Geoff Perl.

Geoff's Walk with the Devil Comes to an End

When Geoff hangs up the phone he is surprised by Red, who is making himself at home on the sofa. Geoff was a member of Animal Underground, we learn, and he fully supports poaching the poachers. Geoff owns Wendigo which controls Emerson-Concorde Imports, a front for the M.C. 

"I simply cannot fathom the journey, the moral detours necessary, to change a man who cherished all creatures great and small into one who profits from their slaughter," declares Red.

I'll leave out the rest of Red's mumbo jumbo about operatic perversion of righteous intent. Red wants the list identifying every operative in the M.C. or he'll kill Geoff. We all know Geoff is toast anyway.

The FBI is at the ranch. Mother is getting the bath ready when Matthew walks in bleeding from the stab wound inflicted by Ressler. She screams and the SWAT team breaks in and shoots Peter. Upstairs, Mother and Matthew are both in the tub when she pushes the radio into the now red-tinged bubbles and water. They are electrocuted in a too-graphic scene.

Geoff gives Red a memory card with the names he wants, and thus begins Red's monologue du week (I know that's not real either, but I'm going to start using it.) He continues to aim a gun at Geoff.

In Sierra Leone 29 years ago, a farmer identified several low level operatives of the M.C., who then massacred his entire family except for the youngest son.  He was sold to a local ring of "flesh peddlers" where he survived for 8 years until he no longer had value. He was chained to a standpipe in the basement of a brothel, branded, burned, and left to die. Red saved him (while visiting the brothel?) It was Dembe Zuma, who Red now describes as 'splendid'. Dembe appears in the background and says, "Raymond, don't. That was then, it serves no purpose to kill him now." So Red pulls the trigger. And Dembe's not happy.

More music - I turn a blind eye, you do whatever it takes.

What's Behind Door Number 1?

Cooper receives the list of M.C. operatives.

Liz finds Ressler's pills at the Hideout of Horrors. She approaches, gives him the vial, and sits with him as Samar's ever watchful eyes are on them.

Red is sitting with Zoe at a table in front of the food truck.

Liz is then in the basement:  "I've been thinking about what to do with you. To tell the truth, I haven't made a decision yet. The other day was close. I thought about telling Reddington. He'd know what to do.  But the truth is, this is my responsibility. One way or the other."

The Big Reveal ... it's Robinson Crusoe.  I mean Tom.  This proves what a good haircut, a shave, and a shiny new Mustang can do for you.  He replies, "I've answered all your questions." With feet shackled, he rises and shuffles toward her. She turns to go. "Liz," he almost pleads, "you can't hide me forever."

What questions were raised this week?

  • How did Liz keep Tom alive for months after his serious gunshot wound?
  • Not a question, but the description of Dembe chained to the standpipe was eerily similar to Tom's situation.
  • The theme of burns crops up again.
  • We learn a lot about Dembe's character. What makes a man who watched his entire family get slaughtered, then survived eight years of unimaginable abuse, be so good of heart that he doesn't want the man responsible to die? Yet he works for a man who kills people at the drop of a fedora when it serves his interests. Obviously Dembe possesses extreme loyalty to Red, but he must be terribly conflicted. 
  • What does it mean that it was more important for Red to kill Geoff than to respect Dembe's plea not to do so?
  • What does Red's line, "I simply cannot fathom ...the moral detours necessary..." say about him?
  • Finally, within five minutes of writing about the Russian dog above, my own dog came in the back door carrying a dead squirrel. Another time, my dog Snoopy and I were standing on the driveway when a large fish literally fell out of the sky in front of us. Before I could overcome my shock, Snoopy dove onto the fish and ground it into his fur. Now those are real dogs!

Share your thoughts on The Blacklist "The Mombasa Cartel" Discussion Page.